Ken Wilber reading sequence

Happy thanksgiving everyone,

As I am sure many of you are, as am I avid fans of Ken Wilber’s books. One thing I sometimes find frustrating though is the extent of overlap between all integral (not just kw’s) readings. While I can understand why basic introductions of Integral theory are important for readers that aren’t familiar, it can be tedious reading the same kinds of material over and over again, and sometimes confusing (as there are different slightly different iterations of the theory that have developed over time.) I also notice that much of the time spent in the ILP podcasts spend much time reviewing the theory itself. Does anyone else struggle with this?

I have read:
One Taste
Eye of The Spirit
as well as listened to much of the media on integral life

I am considering starting:
Integral Psychology
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality
Integral meditation
Integral Buddhism
Religion of Tomorrow

I am curious if anyone has any insight into the nuance Integral Psychology has that I wouldn’t get from reading SES and similarly with the more recent books listed.

Thanks for your help!


My first book was A Brief History of Everything, which is sort of a summarized version of SES, but written as a dialogue. Highly recommended. I usually advise that people start with BHoE, and then move to SES to unpack that material.

Religion of Tomorrow is exquisite if you want Ken’s most contemporary thinking around spirituality.

Integral Psychology is awesome, and does contain lots of material that isn’t thoroughly covered in SES.

For older stuff, I’ve always really loved The Atman Project. So beautifully written. His writing had a somewhat different flavor than his later stuff.

The Marriage of Sense and Soul is also a really great overview book to consider.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these – it just comes down to what you are interested in. Philosophy? Go with BHoE/SES. Psychology? Go with IP. Spirituality? Go with RoT, and maybe complement it with TAP.

And don’t ignore Boomeritis. It’s a goofy book, but has a lot of great stuff in it. And it’s something totally different from Ken :slight_smile:

Let us know what you end up deciding!


First, happy holidays, Dunlapsa and everyone.

Second. Dunlapsa, I share the frustration you express in your first paragraph. I just think Ken Wilber needs a ruthless editor. Someone who will untangle his endless, impacted run-on sentences, and force the presentation of his ideas into a more linear, logical sequence, and above all prune those impacted redundancies that scatter the attention of the hard-working reader.

My working theory is that KW sees his whole thought system as one holographic entity, all parts equally present in each. Which is maybe the way these things work in the higher dimensions KW inhabits. But when presenting such though systems in writing for the rest of us, it would REALLY REALLY help if KW, or he plus a ruthless editor, translated this into a linear sequence that builds on itself one logical step at a time, minus the confusing redundancies.

I’ve been reading KW’s books as they have been published ever since 1982. Which is perhaps a kinder, gentler way of assimilating his thought structures. And while I often feel exactly the frustration you do, Dunlapsa, it’s always, always been worth the effort.

Let me present the other side: the AQAL synthesis is one of the greatest achievements of our species (IMHO). It has certainly been one of the best things that ever happened to me, hard as I’ve had to work to assimilate it. I am a much happier, more together human being today than I’d have been without its guiding orientation.

I can imagine another side to this. KW has so much to present that it is a better use of his time to publish something that isn’t fully polished – something that most other writers would not consider a final draft – so that he can hurry on to his next work-in-progress.

And let me echo Corey deVos. “Boomeritis” is a lot of fun and an excellent additional onramp to KW’s mental universe. Those last thirty pages are worth the long slog through all that critique of rancid Green.

Also, with great respect to Corey, I prefer “A Theory Of Everything” to “A Brief History Of Everything.” Probably just a quirk of mine, but I generally find the Q&A format a bit off-putting. Both these books are good onramps to the fullness of AQAL theory. Maybe read both? Then move on to SES, if you want to take on board AQAL theory in its fulness, or else move on to one of the other books Corey recommended depending on your main interest?

My favorite early work of KW’s is “Up From Eden,” probably because I’m a historian by training.

And finally, welcome to our merry band!

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I have a similar experience, Samuel. I wish content could be organized in levels so that we could enter at the edge of what we know rather than constantly reviewing. This would be challenging to achieve for writers, but perhaps a worthwhile endeavor.

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You can find things divided up this way at the Ken Wilber Bio Project here:

Thank you ksv, this is really helpful!
much appreciated


So glad if this was helpful. KW’s evolving meta-synthesis has been one of the guiding lights of my life. I’m very grateful to be part of this community.

I read all of Ken’s books, and I was an active learner who downloaded and listened to nearly all audio programs when it was still IntegralNaked.

I was introduced to Ken Wilber’s thoughts in some other books such as “Thought as Passion” by Frank Visser.
I think the first book that I read that was actually written by Ken was either Boomeritis or Brief History of Everything almost 15 years ago. Marriage of Sense and Soul is very good read because it was first of Ken’s books to be published by a mainstream publisher (big 4, random house)—it was critically acclaimed by Al Gore.
I also read One Taste and listened to Kosmic Consciousness CDs relatively early—these two knowledge products gave clear hints that Ken’s mind is just off-the-chart extraordinary. [I think he said in one of the IntegralNaked audio program that he read 23 PhD worth of books and was able to write books in his head]

I soon read all of Ken’s books that he has written in 1-2 years. I remember “Sex, Ecology, Spirituality“ and “Integral Spirituality” being more challenging books—but these two texts are also foundational because they are what started /delineated Wilber IV and Wilber V. Ken’s earlier books did contain concepts that are no longer deemed correct in current Integral theory—e.g. stacking “nature, deity, formless and nondual mysticism” on top of centauric/vision logic stage. But his earlier books contain many extraordinary quotes and very poetic writings. [Many of people I talked to are still only familiar with Ken’s earliest books such as Spectrum of Consciousness, No Boundary and Up from Eden]

Ken’s books written in the 2010s might be written without an editor involved—although I appreciate the framework, the quality of the writing has indeed dropped off compared to Ken’s earlier works written in his 20’s 30’s 40’s 50’s. (I also understand that there is often an assumption that the reader might not be familiar with AQAL theory, so there often is a fair amount of repetition in Ken’s later books) I understand that Ken is very established now and he also could have some physical limitation—so I still appreciate the new concepts that I could find in the newer books such as “Integral Meditation” and “Religion of tomorrow”. [I appreciated the description of 3rd tier, for instance—which were not really touched on in books before 2010s—, but I did have lots of questions about it]

So for me, a good order might be:

To know the theory, start with :
Integral Vision
Brief history of everything
Marriage of Sense and Soul
Theory of Everything
integral psychology
Eye of the Spirit

For practice:
Integral Life Practice (the book)
Integral meditation

For deeper cut:
Sex, ecology, spirituality
fragments of 2nd Kosmos trilogy
Integral Spirituality

To know the man, and why you need to understand his mind, go with:
One Taste
Kosmic Consciousness CDs
True Grit
Ken Wilber biography course
Ken Wilber Brainwave video on Youtube

If you want to appreciate poetic writings, go with:
No boundary
Spectrum of consciousness
One Taste
Up from Eden

For fun:
Integral Vision
Integral Graphs

Then read other books when you are feeling completionist like me:
for books written in 2010s, I don’t know how a total beginner would react if he or she were to read without an understanding of integral theory in the first place. Religion of Tomorrow and Integral Buddhism are the same books—the former contains the latter. So I personally think books written after Integral Spirituality are for people who are already fairly grounded in integral and would not mind some flaws in the writings but are more looking for just ideas and meta-frameworks.

I am still waiting for Kosmos Trilogy Volume 2 and 3 and waiting to see if there will be emergence of Wilber VI and VII.

May you find great mental clarity with the integral framework, and may people around you benefit from the wisdom that you manifest in the world.

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Good trajectory.
I think you mean Grace and Grit instead of True Grit?
Also maybe make it clear that Religion of Tomorrow is much vaster than Integral Buddhism - not the same book.